Jobs to fill win­ter months

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Daily Express - - DREAM GARDENS -

CROSS the coun­try peo­ple will be heav­ing a sigh of re­lief as they shove the gar­den­ing tools in the shed one last time and bang the door shut.

Bri­tish Sum­mer Time is of­fi­cially over in a fort­night and for some that spells the close of the gar­den­ing sea­son and the start of some long lie-ins at the week­end.

But not ev­ery­one is so pleased. Keen gar­den­ers of­ten feel bereft at the thought of those win­try months with noth­ing for green fin­gers to do.

By Fe­bru­ary some of them are al­most crawl­ing up the walls. The good news is win­ter is a great time for catch­ing up on all those things you sim­ply can’t fit in to the sum­mer sched­ule be­cause reg­u­lar mow­ing, clip­ping, trim­ming and weed­ing take up all your time.

Now that ev­ery­thing has stopped grow­ing there’s a chance to spend time work­ing on the big­ger pic­ture. If some parts of the gar­den are ripe for a mini-makeover, four quiet months give you plenty of time for a re­design.

The plan­ning can all be done in­doors when the weather’s too bad for any­thing else then in mild spells you can get on with dig­ging out foun­da­tions, lay­ing paving and do­ing any brick­work.

There’s also time to as­sem­ble sheds, flat-pack arches or gaze­bos, put up fenc­ing or trel­lis, dig a pond or make raised beds for grow­ing veg­eta­bles.

Win­ter is also ideal for soil prepa­ra­tion. If you are cre­at­ing a new lawn, kitchen gar­den or flower bed there is bags of time to get the ground cleared and dug over.

You can also push ahead with plant­ing. The dor­mant sea­son – from now un­til mid-March – is the best time for plant­ing de­cid­u­ous trees, shrubs, roses and hedges.

In­deed, it’s the only time you can plant bare-root plants dug up from a nurs­ery field. Even pot-grown shrubs from gar­den cen­tres “take” so much bet­ter if they are put in when they aren’t in leaf.

What’s more, you can make big sav­ings by plant­ing now as gar­den cen­tres of­ten hold end-of-sea­son sales to clear the decks in time for Christ­mas.

There are lots of use­ful lit­tle jobs too – sort­ing out the shed and clean­ing pots and seed trays ready for spring. When the weather is in­clement you can spend time in­doors prof­itably by or­der­ing seeds and plants from cat­a­logues.

Out­side, pre­pare for win­try weather by lag­ging the out­door tap, re­plac­ing cracked panes of glass in the green­house and se­cur­ing tree ties. Dull? Well, maybe but boy will you feel vir­tu­ous when these jobs are done.

If you want some­thing cre­ative to get stuck into col­lect plants that do their stuff in win­ter. You might dab­ble in named va­ri­eties of snow­drops in pots, un­usual win­ter flow­er­ing con­ser­va­tory plants such as Lachena­lia and Cor­rea or ex­otic houseplants.

In the gar­den there are var­i­ous win­ter-flow­er­ing shrubs to en­joy and win­ter con­tain­ers to plant up. So there’s no ex­cuse for feel­ing bored, fed up or house­bound.

The win­ter break is a great chance to do the sort of gar­den­ing you can’t do the rest of the year. Make the most of it.

SPREAD A LIT­TLE OF NA­TURE’S FINEST

COME the muck-spread­ing don’t want to use ma­nure from sea­son you may well won­der fac­tory-farmed an­i­mals but if what sort of ma­nure is best. you keep hens or the chil­dren Horse, chicken, pig, cat­tle – keep rab­bits, save old bed­ding donkey per­haps. when you clean them out.

While there are mi­nor It needs com­post­ing well first vari­a­tions be­tween species, the since any fresh ma­nure – big­gest dif­fer­ence is in the way es­pe­cially chicken – is high in an­i­mals are kept and the type of ni­tro­gen and can scorch plants bed­ding used, since this if ap­plied too soon. It’s best in­evitably ends up form­ing the mixed with green waste and put bulk of the on the ma­nure com­post you buy. heap where it

Horse works as an ma­nure is the ac­ti­va­tor. gar­dener’s The type of tra­di­tional bed­ding used favourite, makes a big mainly dif­fer­ence. be­cause it is Most still widely gar­den­ers avail­able in pre­fer coun­try ma­nure from ar­eas. And an­i­mals when well bed­ded on rot­ted and straw since it ready to rots quickly. use it’s Saw­dust or rea­son­ably wood pleas­ant to shav­ings are han­dle and slow to rot is fairly and take a lot odour­less. of ni­tro­gen

Horses fed out of the a finely tuned ma­nure in the diet or those process. given But as a con­cen­trated rule of thumb sup­ple­ments what­ever you will pro­duce can get most ma­nure of is best for con­tain­ing far your gar­den.

COM­POST: Mix in gar­den waste more plant The phys­i­cal nu­tri­ents than those fed con­di­tion­ing ef­fect on the soil is ex­clu­sively on grass. what works won­ders.

In the past gar­den­ers of­ten Though ma­nure con­tains used ma­nure from bul­lock yards use­ful trace el­e­ments it’s low or pig farms and be­ing rather in the ma­jor nu­tri­ents – “fresh” it tended to stink a bit ni­tro­gen, phos­pho­rus and which up­set the neigh­bours. potas­sium – so you still need

These days a lot of peo­ple to use gen­eral fer­tiliser.

Pic­tures: GETTY

DIG­GING IT: Colder months are a good time to plant trees and shrubs

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